Rotary is About
Through our programs for emerging leaders, we’re helping young people get the skills and experience they need to make a real difference in the lives of others. We offer both service clubs and programs to help students and young professionals strengthen their leadership skills, expand their world understanding, and make new friends.
With clubs in nearly every country, Rotary’s positive impact on communities around the world has never been greater. If you share our passion for creating lasting change, contact our club to learn how you can join
Our clubs are where Rotary’s humanitarian work begins. At weekly meetings, members not only catch up with friends and hear what’s happening in our communities, they also exchange ideas for creating positive change. But it doesn’t stop there.
Our global network makes it possible for members to connect with business, professional, and community leaders anywhere in the world. You can experience a new culture, use your professional skills for a good cause, or simply share a hobby. If you can’t do it at home, you can surely do it at Rotary’s annual convention, where our diverse membership comes together for inspiration, education, and fun.
Are you ready to make a difference in your community and in communities around the world? You’ll find Rotary members digging wells, building schools, immunizing children, and organizing food drives. We’re building peace, empowering youth, and saving mothers and children. It’s what we’ve been doing for more than 100 years and our impact on lives is unmistakable.
When we commit to a cause, like eradicating polio, we don’t stop until it’s finished. Since 1979, we’ve raised millions of dollars, immunized billions of children, and put polio eradication on the agenda of governments around the world.
The History of Rotary
Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
OUR ONGOING COMMITMENT
Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:
- We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.
- We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.
- Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.
“WHATEVER ROTARY MAY MEAN TO US, TO THE WORLD IT WILL BE KNOWN BY THE RESULTS IT ACHIEVES.”
—PAUL P. HARRIS
- Warren G. Harding, U.S. president
- Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer
- Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of Mayo Clinic
- Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor of the wireless radio and Nobel laureate
- Thomas Mann, German novelist and Nobel laureate
- Friedrich Bergius, German chemist and Nobel laureate
- Admiral Richard E. Byrd, American explorer
- Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia
- H.E. Soleiman Frangieh, president of Lebanon
- Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator
- Manny Pacquaio, Filipino world-champion boxer and congressman
- Richard Lugar, U.S. senator
- Frank Borman, American astronaut
- Edgar A. Guest, American poet and journalist
- Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish entertainer
- Franz Lehar, Austrian composer
- Lennart Nilsson, Swedish photographer
- James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney Co.
- Carlos Romulo, UN General Assembly president
- Sigmund Sternberg, English businessman and philanthropist